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A Twelve Step Guide to Being a… Eric Hackathorn Adapted from Don Jacobson’s “Tips for Change Agents” http://govleaders.org/change_agents.htm
#1: Be Clear About Your Big Goal What is it that you are really trying to accomplish? Do you have a vision of your end goal? Keeping the end goal in mind is critical to forward movement. You will experience many setbacks on the way as some of your tactics will fail. If you dwell on the latest setback it is easy to become frustrated.
#2: Choose to Lead Leadership is a choice. If you see a problem, own it. And fix it. All too often, employees see problems but wait for someone else to address them. It’s important to remember that the boss might not even be aware that the problems exist—and even if they do know about it they might not have the time or energy to do anything about it.
#3: Look for Leverage Points Leverage points are places where you can achieve a multiplier effect from focused efforts. For example, someone who provides support and guidance to managers across many parts of the organization can be a great leverage point for modeling or disseminating practices and ideas that you want to implement across the organization.
#4: Plant Lots of Seeds If you are looking to implement a major culture change, you will need to start planting seeds in various parts of the organization. Be on the constant lookout for 1) opportunities for small wins; 2) new allies; and 3) ways to change the language used to discuss your issue.
#5: Develop a Network Networks are key enablers for the change agent. Members of a network can provide each other encouragement, ideas, and other support. They can also provide leverage by building support for change in diverse parts of the organization. Networks also reinforce the fact that you are not alone—a key factor in being able to persist.
#6: Maintain your Optimism As Winston Churchill said, “The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” The change agent in government will encounter many difficulties. Optimism gives us the enduring belief that, working with and through others, we can make a difference. Optimism is also infectious.
#7: Be Creative About Tactics You will encounter many obstacles. Keep the end goal in mind while you look for tactics that will help you find ways to go over, under, around, or through the obstacles. If one tactic doesn’t work, try something else. If you don’t have a knack for finding creative solutions, partner with colleagues who do.
#8: Be Honest in Your Assessment What would happen if your change initiative is implemented and then fails miserably? How would that impact your agency’s ability to perform its mission? How much money and energy will have been wasted? Will it cause public embarrassment? The answers to these questions can help you identify ways to strengthen your proposal and mitigate the potential downsides.
#9: Cultivate Credibility To be an effective change agent, you also need to take the time to cultivate your credibility in your organization. New employees have fresh eyes and good ideas and managers should listen carefully to their suggestions. Implementing some modest but innovative changes within their immediate sphere of influence can help them build credibility as an innovator and provide valuable learning about how to get things done in the organization.
#10: Keep Asking “Why?” New employees come in with new perspectives and ideas. Those who have been around for awhile may have become accustomed to an absurd status quo. It’s important to find ways to keep the fresh perspective of the newbie. Don’t learn to accept bureaucratic stupidity if there might be ways to eliminate it.  “Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.”
Change agents also need to be prepared to do a lot of the groundwork required to actually implement the changes. A lot of ideas go nowhere simply because the boss is already too busy to take on something new—no matter how creative and exciting it may be to the would-be change agent. #11: Do Completed Staff Work If you take a great idea to your boss and show them that they won’t have to do much more than say, “Yes,” your chances of getting the idea approved will improve dramatically.
#12: Remember that a “Yes” From the Top Means the Work is Just Beginning If you are fortunate enough to have the big boss sign off on your major change initiative, remember that the decision point is only the beginning of the real work for implementing your initiative. Just because a change initiative is blessed by the leader(s) of the organization does not mean anything will actually happen. And even if the initiative is implemented, you cannot assume that the effort will continue or have the intended effect.
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. Once implemented they can be easily overturned or subverted through apathy or lack of follow-up, so a continuous effort is required.“ 	-- Admiral Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) …the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” So, what do you think needs to be fixed? ...And what are you going to do about it?

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A Twelve Step Guide to Being a Change Agent

  • 1. A Twelve Step Guide to Being a… Eric Hackathorn Adapted from Don Jacobson’s “Tips for Change Agents” http://govleaders.org/change_agents.htm
  • 2. #1: Be Clear About Your Big Goal What is it that you are really trying to accomplish? Do you have a vision of your end goal? Keeping the end goal in mind is critical to forward movement. You will experience many setbacks on the way as some of your tactics will fail. If you dwell on the latest setback it is easy to become frustrated.
  • 3. #2: Choose to Lead Leadership is a choice. If you see a problem, own it. And fix it. All too often, employees see problems but wait for someone else to address them. It’s important to remember that the boss might not even be aware that the problems exist—and even if they do know about it they might not have the time or energy to do anything about it.
  • 4. #3: Look for Leverage Points Leverage points are places where you can achieve a multiplier effect from focused efforts. For example, someone who provides support and guidance to managers across many parts of the organization can be a great leverage point for modeling or disseminating practices and ideas that you want to implement across the organization.
  • 5. #4: Plant Lots of Seeds If you are looking to implement a major culture change, you will need to start planting seeds in various parts of the organization. Be on the constant lookout for 1) opportunities for small wins; 2) new allies; and 3) ways to change the language used to discuss your issue.
  • 6. #5: Develop a Network Networks are key enablers for the change agent. Members of a network can provide each other encouragement, ideas, and other support. They can also provide leverage by building support for change in diverse parts of the organization. Networks also reinforce the fact that you are not alone—a key factor in being able to persist.
  • 7. #6: Maintain your Optimism As Winston Churchill said, “The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” The change agent in government will encounter many difficulties. Optimism gives us the enduring belief that, working with and through others, we can make a difference. Optimism is also infectious.
  • 8. #7: Be Creative About Tactics You will encounter many obstacles. Keep the end goal in mind while you look for tactics that will help you find ways to go over, under, around, or through the obstacles. If one tactic doesn’t work, try something else. If you don’t have a knack for finding creative solutions, partner with colleagues who do.
  • 9. #8: Be Honest in Your Assessment What would happen if your change initiative is implemented and then fails miserably? How would that impact your agency’s ability to perform its mission? How much money and energy will have been wasted? Will it cause public embarrassment? The answers to these questions can help you identify ways to strengthen your proposal and mitigate the potential downsides.
  • 10. #9: Cultivate Credibility To be an effective change agent, you also need to take the time to cultivate your credibility in your organization. New employees have fresh eyes and good ideas and managers should listen carefully to their suggestions. Implementing some modest but innovative changes within their immediate sphere of influence can help them build credibility as an innovator and provide valuable learning about how to get things done in the organization.
  • 11. #10: Keep Asking “Why?” New employees come in with new perspectives and ideas. Those who have been around for awhile may have become accustomed to an absurd status quo. It’s important to find ways to keep the fresh perspective of the newbie. Don’t learn to accept bureaucratic stupidity if there might be ways to eliminate it. “Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.”
  • 12. Change agents also need to be prepared to do a lot of the groundwork required to actually implement the changes. A lot of ideas go nowhere simply because the boss is already too busy to take on something new—no matter how creative and exciting it may be to the would-be change agent. #11: Do Completed Staff Work If you take a great idea to your boss and show them that they won’t have to do much more than say, “Yes,” your chances of getting the idea approved will improve dramatically.
  • 13. #12: Remember that a “Yes” From the Top Means the Work is Just Beginning If you are fortunate enough to have the big boss sign off on your major change initiative, remember that the decision point is only the beginning of the real work for implementing your initiative. Just because a change initiative is blessed by the leader(s) of the organization does not mean anything will actually happen. And even if the initiative is implemented, you cannot assume that the effort will continue or have the intended effect.
  • 14. "Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. Once implemented they can be easily overturned or subverted through apathy or lack of follow-up, so a continuous effort is required.“ -- Admiral Hyman Rickover (1900-1986) …the “Father of the Nuclear Navy” So, what do you think needs to be fixed? ...And what are you going to do about it?

Notas do Editor

  1. Many of us in government want to change the way our agencies work. These changes can take many forms. Some of us may want to fix a process or change/eliminate counterproductive rules. Others may wish to shoot for more ambitious goals that require a change of culture. The current push to expand the use of collaboration tools like Web 2.0 technologies is one example of a big and important culture change.Effecting change in a large organization is difficult. Those difficulties can be magnified greatly in the public sector. Entrenched rules and structures pose many obstacles. Resource limitations often seem to be the things in greatest abundance. And the possibility of criticism from senior bosses, Congress and the media tends to make many managers risk averse.So how does one overcome all these obstacles to bring about significant positive change? Here is the 12 step guide.